@ the PizzaExpress Jazz Club
20 November 2011
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Desert Island Discs
Which 2 albums would you take with you to a desert island?
Miles Davis – Seven Steps To Heaven
Kim Burrell – Everlasting Life
Jazz musicians are blessed with the desire and ability to play
a genre that has a history as rich as its sound. All the greats,
past and present know that it’s not enough to simply play
the notes, one has to live the music and feel it with every breath.
When Mack Avenue recording artist, Tia Fuller picks up her sax to
play, the two become one and something amazing happens as the notes
and reverberations of her musical elixir fill the room. Suddenly,
everything in the universe feels right and it’s easy to see
and hear why this artist and teacher, who has a Bachelor of Arts
degree in Music from Spelman College in Atlanta, GA, (Magna Cum
Laude) and Master’s degree in Jazz Pedagogy and Performance
from the University of Colorado at Boulder (Summa Cum Laude), was
selected to be a member of the all-female band touring with R&B
star, Beyoncé. As part of the I AM..Sasha Fierce and Beyoncé
Experience World Tour promoting the superstar’s CD’s,
Fuller has played in various venues throughout the US, Europe, Africa,
Asia and Australia. She is a featured soloist on the Beyoncé
Experience DVD (Me, Myself and I) and also appeared on number of
major television shows, such as The Oprah Winfrey Show, Today Show,
Good Morning America, BET Awards, American Music Awards and Total
An accomplished performer in her own right, Tia Fuller has recorded
three CDs with her quartet. The first, Pillar of Strength (2005/Wambui),
received praise as being "an exhilarating work that introduced
her as a leader who strives for perfection" (Terrell Holmes,
All About Jazz Magazine). Her sophomore release, Healing Space (2007/Mack
Avenue), is an offering of “melodic medicine” that the
wide-eyed optimist sincerely hopes will serve as a healing agent
for those who indulge in it. Fuller has relesed her third CD “Decisive
Steps”, Jan. 2010, this is her second offering under the Mack
Avenue label. Her quartet was recently featured at Oris Watches/
Time Tourneau building for WBGO’s jazz festival. Fuller can
also be seen performing regularly with a number of bands, including
the Ralph Peterson Septet, the T.S. Monk Septet, the Jon Faddis
Jazz Orchestra, the Rufus Reid Septet, the Sean Jones Quintet, the
Nancy Wilson Jazz Orchestra, and Wycliff Gordan Septet.
The dynamic saxophonist has been featured in Jazz Improv Magazine,
Rocky Mountain News, The Philadelphia Tribune, The Star Ledger,
Downbeat Magazine and many other print and online publications.
In addition to receiving numerous awards and marks of distinction,
Tia was honoured to be the keynote speaker at the Jazz Institute
of New Jersey’s 2003 graduation ceremony, where she presented
her “Journey to Success” speech. She was also the featured
solist playing “The National Anthem” for Detroit Tiger
Stadium in Sept. 2009. Also, in January 2008, she had the privilege
of participating in a press conference with pianist and composer,
Danilo Perez and the Governor of the Republic of Panama, Carlos
Fuller believes her passion for teaching and inspiring students
is in her genes because her parents were educators/administrators
in the Denver Public School District. As a devoted educator, she
presents lectures and teaches ensembles and masterclasses at some
of the most respected institutions in the country, including Stanford
University’s “Jazz Workshop,” the University of
Idaho’s Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, New Mexico State University,
the IAJE Jazz Convention, Purchase College, WBGO’s “Children
in Jazz” Series, Duquesne University and Panama Jazz Festival.
Fuller moved to Jersey City, NJ two days before the events of September
11, 2001. Despite the fact that the jazz community believed there
was not much work in the area during that period, she wasn’t
discouraged and used the tragic event as a reason to succeed. She
got her first gig playing in a big band at a fish fry in South Jersey.
Brad Leali, who was playing in the Count Basie Orchestra at the
time, spread the word that Fuller was a skilful saxophonist who
also played the flute. This brought her to the attention of others
in the jazz community, including Gerald Wilson, Jimmy Heath, Don
Braden and Don Byron, which led to her performing with a number
of luminaries in the world of jazz.
With music in her blood and a song in her heart, Tia Fuller was
born in Aurora, Colorado to jazz musicians, Fred and Elthopia Fuller.
Her father, Fred plays bass and her mother, Elthopia sings. She
grew up listening to her parents rehearse in the basement of their
home, as well as the music of jazz greats, such as John Coltrane,
Sarah Vaughn and Charlie Parker. I
Inspired by her older sister, Shamie, Fuller began playing classical
piano when she was just three years old and continued until she
was thirteen. She also began studying the flute when she was nine.
Her interest in jazz came into fruition in high school. It was during
this time that she began playing the saxophone.
The Colorado native, who now resides in Essex County, New Jersey,
says playing music makes her feel as if she is a vessel for the
Spirit to flow through. While listening to her songs, she wants
people to be uplifted and experience a sense of restoration, compelling
them to move forward not in fear, but in love and faith.